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Sox GM Ken Williams dangling John Danks

John Danks White Sox pitches fourth inning U.S. Cellular Field Wednesday July 27 2011 Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

John Danks of the White Sox pitches in the fourth inning at U.S. Cellular Field Wednesday, July 27, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 3, 2012 10:39AM

White Sox manager Robin Ventura can dream.

Heck, it’s hot-stove time in December, so why crush his hopes?

Leave that to his general manager.

“Obviously, I would love to hand the ball to John Danks 30-plus times,’’ Ventura said Thursday. ‘‘Gavin Floyd, the same thing, and have Carlos [Quentin] in right field. It’s kind of a wish list, but I don’t think I know what will happen. That’s the interesting thing about going [to the winter meetings].’’

Considering the phone calls made and received by general manager Ken Williams in the last week, it’s obvious what the Sox are trying to do.

So much for the wish list.

Several major-league sources, as well as a Sox source, confirmed to the Sun-Times that Williams has been shopping Danks as next week’s winter meetings draw closer. The Sox are set to move the left-handed starter rather than have him go through one last year of arbitration, then free agency.

One problem.

“Kenny asked for everyone on our roster in return,’’ a source said.

Call it positioning before the meetings get real.

But the Sox’ reality might not be very popular with their fans or help in the standings. Tough decisions have to be made because of bad decisions made by Williams the last three seasons.

And the decision to shop Danks isn’t the only one.

By the time the meetings end next week, Danks, Quentin, Matt Thornton and free- agent pitcher Mark Buehrle could be in different uniforms.

“I think it will be decided there,’’ Ventura said when asked if the Sox could play their hand at the meetings.

The latest on the Buehrle free-agent tour doesn’t exactly bode well for the Sox, either, with a source telling the Sun-Times that interested teams need not bother unless they’re willing to start the discussions with a three-year deal that has a no-trade clause to go along with it.

Those are the starting terms.

But a Sox source did say Buehrle and his agent, Jeff Berry, have told the team they would give them a last chance to meet any offer on the table. That doesn’t mean the Sox have the finances to change Buehrle’s mind, however.

Then there’s Quentin, who was dangled last offseason to several teams and again in July as the trade deadline drew closer. The likelihood of moving him continues to pick up steam with the Sox ready to play Dayan Viciedo every day and because of Quentin’s perennial injury woes.

Thornton is the other player they’re willing to part with. Pitching coach Don Cooper said in a meeting late last season that he believed Thornton’s best days were behind him, according to a source

Floyd was believed to be another trade candidate, but, according to outside teams, the right-hander has been asked about but not offered up by Williams.

That makes sense, considering the tight relationship Floyd and Cooper have.

But the rotation the Sox are willing to march out next season doesn’t make sense. Take out Buehrle and Danks, and that leaves Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Floyd, Phil Humber, Zach Stewart, then possibly whatever return they could get from trading Danks.

Williams was the only one sold on Stewart by the time last season ended, and Sale might be limited to 160-170 innings, going from reliever to starter.

Humber has to prove he’s not a one-hit wonder, and Peavy has to make sure that the groin problems from late last season are in the past.

“There’s a business side of this that isn’t always fun,’’ Ventura said.

A point he might become all too familiar with by this time next week.

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